Queensland Literary Awards 2021 shortlist announced

I haven’t reported often on these awards, but they are an example of the literary world’s faith in the value of awards, as any of you who remember their history will know. They are an interesting set of awards because they combine specific state awards and awards for which all Australian writers are eligible. And they have some great categories, including one for short story collections, which appeals to me. The full shortlist is available on their site. I will just list a selection of the categories here, but there are also awards for Poetry, Children’s and YA Books for example, if you are interested.

Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance ($25,000)

  • Lech Blaine’s Car crash: A memoir
  • Laura Elvery’s Ordinary matter
  • Fiona Foley’s Biting the clouds
  • Patty Lees with Adam C Lees’ A question of colour (Lisa’s review)
  • Jaya Savige, Change machine

David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer ($15,000)

  • Ngankiburka-mekauwe (Senior Woman-of Water) Georgina Williams’ Mekauwe= Tears Volume #1 (Notes For Song) 1970-2020
  • Chella Goldwin’s Politiks

University of Southern Queensland Short Story Collection-Steele Rudd Award ($15,000)

Book cover
  • Laura Elvery’s Ordinary matter
  • Melissa Manning’s Smokehouse
  • Elizabeth Tan’s Smart ovens for lonely people (Bill’s review)
  • Adam Thomspon’s Born into this (my review)
  • Barry Lee Thompson’s Broken rules and other stories 

University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award ($15,000)

  • Lech Blaine’s Car crash: A memoir
  • Eleanor Hogan’s Into the loneliness
  • Henry Reynolds’ Truth-telling (Janine’s review)
  • Luke Stegemann’s Amnesia Road (Janine’s review)
  • Marian Wilkinson’s The carbon club

University of Queensland Fiction Book Award ($15,000)

Book cover

Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award ($10,000)

  • Trent Dalton’s All the shimmering skies
  • Sandra Hogan’s With my little eye
  • Kathleen Jennings’ Flyaway
  • Susan Johnson’s From where I fell (Lisa’s review)
  • Grantlee Kieza’s Banks

There are books here that I’ve heard a lot about, and that are on my TBR here, and books I haven’t heard of at all. What about you? Any favourites here? Any surprises or tempters?

The winners will be annnounced on 9 September. Good luck to all.

Queensland Literary Awards 2018 winners announced

Hot off tonight’s twitter feed are this year’s winners of the Queensland Literary Awards. They combine specific state awards and awards for which all Australian writers are eligible.

Here is the whole suite of winners in the order they were announced:

  • Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance: Jackie Ryan’s Expo 88
  • Bri Lee, Eggshell skullYoung Publishers and Writers Award: Bri Lee’s Eggshell skull and Anna Jacobson, whose debut poetry collection will be published by UQP in 2019.
  • Queensland Writing Fellows: Michael Gerard Bauer, Laura Elvery and Jackie Ryan.
  • State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection — Judith Wright Calanthe Award: Michael Farrell’s I love poetry (Giramondo), which, says the Twitter feed, the judges found to be “a truly inventive book” 
  • Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer: Melanie Myers for her manuscript Garrison Town. The judges, says Twitter, described it as “a polished, multi-layered narrative”.
  • David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer: Kirstie Parker for her manuscript The making of Ruby Champion, which impressed the judges for the way it “seamlessly draws together the outback Aboriginal grassroots experience with the urban Black story”. The David Unaipon Award has brought us some wonderful writers in the past, of which, to date, I’ve reviewed four here.
  • QUT Digital Literature Award: David Henry Thomas Wright & Chris Arnold’s Little Emperor syndrome. The judges noted its “elegantly simple execution of a wickedly complex narrative”. 
  • Griffith University Children’s Book Award: Peter Carnavas’ The elephant (UQP).
  • Griffith University Young Adult Book Award: Cally Black’s In the dark spaces (Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • University of Southern Queensland Short Story Collection-Steele Rudd Award: Jennifer Down’s Pulse points (Text Publishing), which the judges described as “a daring, compelling and refreshing collection” 
  • University of Southern Queensland History Book Award: Jackie Ryan’s Expo 88: We’ll show the world (UQP), which the judges praised for its “achievement in analysing the many dimensions of the Expo story…with such pacey economy is extraordinary” 
  • University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award: Alexis Wright’s Tracker (Giramondo) which the judges said “is stunningly innovative in the way it brings the life and story of Tracker Tilmouth to the printed page”
  • Kim Scott, TabooUniversity of Queensland Fiction Book Award: Kim Scott’s Taboo (Pan Macmillan) which the judges described as “a confronting but ultimately hopeful book that probes Australia’s heart of darkness in poetic and masterly prose.” (Still on my TBR but Lisa has read!)
  • Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award: Beth Wilson’s Brisbane houses with gardens.

Jackie Ryan, Expo 88

Some interesting awards and books here, but Jackie Ryan is clearly the winner of the night, having won the Award for a work of State Significance, the History Book Award, and a Writing Fellowship. I should say that publisher UQP shows her books full title as We’ll show the world: Expo 88 – Brisbane’s almighty struggle for a little bit of cred.

I particularly love that these Awards include one for Digital Literature (since 2017, I believe). It’s not surprising, though, given the work being done in keeping up with new writing and publishing technologies by the Queensland Writers Centre. You may remember that last year I reviewed the Writing black digital collection edited by Ellen van Neerven and supported by the Centre’s If:book arm.

Anyhow, as always, congratulations to all the winners. What a thrill it must be.

Monday musings on Australian literature: 2016 awards season dragging to a close

As the year draws to a close, our final major literary awards are being announced. We’ve seen this month the winners of the Queensland Literary Awards and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards. The Barbara Jefferis Award has announced its shortlist, but we are still waiting for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist.

All but one of these awards have had somewhat problematic trajectories in recent years. The Queensland Literary Awards were established in 2012 when the then Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, abolished the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. The awards were managed for two years by a volunteer committee, before negotiation with the State Library of Queensland saw the Library take over management in 2014. In 2015, new Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced that the government would again support the awards. However, they are now a more collaborative venture than they’d been under the abolished regime, which should ensure a more secure future for them. The Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, on the other hand, which had been awarded annually from 1996 to 2014, were downgraded to a biennial timetable starting in 2016. Disappointing, really.

Meanwhile, what has happened to the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (PMLA)? Established in 2008 after Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, they expanded quickly from comprising just two prizes (fiction and non-fiction) to several, so that by 2102 there were six prizes with young adult fiction, children’s fiction, poetry and Australian history being added to the mix. However, there seems to be no established timetable. In 2008, the winners were announced in September, while in 2009 and 2010, we had to wait until early November. Then, in 2011 and 2012, they were announced in July, and in 2013 it was August. The last two years, 2014 and 2015, the winners were announced in December, with their shortlists announced in October and November, respectively. Given there’s been a call for entries this year, they must be happening, so presumably we’ll see this year’s shortlist soon! The PMLA people play it very close to their chest, despite having a Facebook page on which they share all sorts of literary news, because this year, as in recent ones, I’ve not been able to find a timetable. I guess we just have to have faith.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have other issues, though, besides erratic timetabling, including a lack of transparency regarding the process, poor marketing and promotion, and, most serious of all, political interference in the judges’ decisions. The best known example of this occurred in 2014 when the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott over-ruled the fiction judges’ choice of Stephen Carroll’s A world of other people to award the fiction prize to Richard Flanagan’s The narrow road to the deep north. But, according to Patrick Allington in The Conversation and past non-fiction judge Colin Steele, such interference has occurred a few times in the Awards’ short history. This is not good enough. As Allington writes, the stipulation that a Prime Minister has the final say about winners “compromises the Awards’ credibility, purpose and depth.”

The fun stuff … some winners

But enough of that. Let’s talk about some of the winners. I’m not going to list them all because the Queensland Literary Awards offers prizes in twelve categories and you can see them all at the site. Similarly, the WA Premier’s Book Awards has about eleven categories, and you can see those winners too at their site. I’m just going to share the few winners I’ve read and reviewed!

Elizabeth Harrower, A few days in the country and other stories

First up, the Queensland Literary Awards. The award which pleased me most is Elizabeth Harrower’s A few days in the country and other stories (my review) sharing the Steele Rudd Award for Australian short story collections sponsored by the University of Southern Queensland. This is a wonderful collection of short stories, which has been shortlisted for a couple of awards, so I’m thrilled to see Harrower receive the recognition she deserves. (And I’m pleased for Text Publishing too given the work they’ve done to bring Harrower to our attention through their Text Classics).

Fiona Wright, Small acts of disappearanceAnother a winner at these awards was Fiona Wright’s honest, insightful collection of essays, Small acts of disappearance (my review), about her experience of an eating disorder. Wright was the Non-fiction Book Award, also sponsored by the University of Southern Queensland.

Meanwhile, over in the west, at the newly biennial Western Australian Literary Awards, it all felt a little old because many of the winners have been around for a couple of years now and most of them featured in the 2015 shortlists and awards. This is not their fault of course, but it certainly brought home the impact of the awards only being two-yearly. The fiction award, for example, was won by Joan London’s The golden age, which was shortlisted and/or won several awards in 2015.

Helen Garner, This house of grief book cover

Courtesy: Text Publishing

The big news at these awards, from my point of view, is that Helen Garner’s non-fiction work This house of grief (my review) won not only the Non-fiction prize, but also the overall Premier’s Prize. A fascinating choice, because mostly, though not exclusively I know, these overall awards tend to go to works of fiction.

Western Australia, like Queensland, quarantines an award or two to writers from their states. Queensland has awards for “a work of state significance” and “emerging Queensland writer”, while Western Australia offers awards for “Western Australian history” and “Western Australian emerging writer”. The winner of this last award is a book I’ve reviewed here, Lost and found by Brooke Davis.

And so, by my reckoning, we have three more literary awards to go – the Prime Minister’s (on a yet-to-be announced date), the biennial Barbara Jefferis Award (on 25 October), and the always interesting MUBA (Most Underrated Book Award (on 11 November). Good luck everyone.

Queensland Literary Awards … to continue in 2013

There’s sometimes a fine line in the blogging world between promoting and supporting. I don’t see my role being to promote particular authors or books, but overall I like to think that my blog supports literature in general, and Australian literature in particular. A by-product of that support is probably promotion, but that’s not my goal. However, today I’m going to stray more into the promotion side of the line – but there’s a good reason for it, and there’s no monetary gain for the organisation I’m promoting so, here goes …

Queensland Literary Awards LogoThis week’s Monday Musings was about my new Australian Literary Awards page in which I’ve listed Australia’s main literary awards for fiction. I included the new Queensland Literary Awards without being completely certain whether they would continue, given their history. Today their continuation was confirmed in an email from Queensland Literary Awards Inc. The email says:

The Queensland Literary Awards (QLAs) were established through significant public support in 2012. The QLAs are Queensland’s most significant suite of literary prizes. They celebrate, nurture, and applaud the talents and achievements of Australia’s writers.

We have received outstanding support from numerous partners to keep the awards alive again this year.

They asked if I would help get the word out about the awards. How could I say no, given all the work they’ve done and the support they’ve received from others? Queensland is, after all, my home state and has a long history of literary awards.

This year’s award categories are:

  • The Courier‐Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year
  • Deloitte Fiction Book Award
  • University of Queensland Non‐Fiction Book Award
  • University of Southern Queensland History Book Award
  • State Library Queensland Poetry Collection—Judith Wright Calanthe Award
  • Australian Short Story Collection—Steele Rudd Award
  • Griffith University Young Adult Book Award
  • Children’s Book Award
  • Gadens Feature Film Script Award
  • Emerging Queensland Author—Manuscript Award (supported by University of Queensland Press)
  • Unpublished Indigenous Writer—David Unaipon Award (supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and University of Queensland Press)

Two of the awards – The Courier‐Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year and the Emerging Queensland Author—Manuscript Award – are limited to Queensland authors, but the other nine are national awards. I rather like the idea of designating a couple of awards for the state of origin while retaining the national focus overall.

If you want to know more about the awards and how to nominate – the time-frame is tight – please click here.